One summer when I was in college, I worked with a guy named Dave. Like me, Dave was from a little town. He had followed his high school girlfriend to UH. She was very pretty, and Dave had his life pretty much planned out. Sooner or later, they were going to be married. Right in the middle of the summer, Dave’s girlfriend dumped him. Most of us have experienced this. She used very vague language in order to not make Dave feel too terrible. So he was left with the impression that she still cared deeply for him and this was very likely just a “break” instead of a break up. Still, Dave was devastated. Those of us who worked with Dave decided to cheer him up, so the very next Saturday, we all went to Astroworld (It’s funny how different you think when you’re 19 years old. My father in law used to say Astroworld is the place you went if you died without knowing Jesus. I’m at the age now where I feel that way about theme parks, too. But back then, it was a magical place). At first, Dave was fairly glum. But after a few hours of standing in line in tropical heat and getting his brain scrambled on the Texas Cyclone, combined with a gallon of Coca-Cola, he started to really cheer up. We were the best friends ever! Then it happened. We turned a corner and ran right into Dave’s girlfriend…with her new boyfriend…who Dave knew nothing about until that moment. Our wonderful plan backfired. For Dave, it was a world-shaking moment. His life changed forever in that one point in time. Whatever else would happen from this point forward, Dave wasn’t going to spend the rest of his life with the girl he loved.
We’ve all experienced moments like that, when suddenly our eyes are opened to a reality that is brand new to us, and from then on, we see the world in a different way. Some of these experiences are good, thank God. For example, if you moved away from the place where you grew up, you had a chance to start life fresh, meet new people, discover new things. The next time you went home, the people you’d grown up with could tell you had changed. Or perhaps you discovered a talent you never knew you had until that first time you pitched in fast-pitch softball game, or that first time you taught a lesson to a room full of kids, or the first time you worked on an engine, or the first time you helped someone who was injured. For a lot of us, having a baby was that kind of event. When our first child was born, it was the only time in my life I’ve ever cried tears of joy. And then I saw my wife holding our daughter for the first time, and I knew my world had changed forever. From then on, I was definitely going to be in second place in her life—at best (depending on how the dog was behaving that day). My eyes were opened that day to a new reality. My life would never be the same again, because from that point forward, it wasn’t just about me anymore.
Jesus changed the world more than any other person who has ever lived. For weeks now, we’ve been talking about some of the ways He changed our world—He changed the way we think about compassion, education, success, enemies, religion, sex and marriage...and about who God is. But this Sunday, I want to talk about the most important and profound way Jesus changed our world. People who met Him experienced something that no person, no institution, no multi-national force on earth could give them, either then or now. This Sunday, we’ll look at a story of that happening to two people on the first Easter Sunday. As we do, I want you to ask yourself if you’ve experienced this or not.